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No evidence of Covid-19 transmission within schools so far, face shields for teachers to be disallowed: Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE — There is no evidence of Covid-19 transmission within schools despite recent cases of Covid-19 detected among students in several schools recently, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (May 14).

No evidence of Covid-19 transmission within schools so far, face shields for teachers to be disallowed: Lawrence Wong
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SINGAPORE — There is no evidence of Covid-19 transmission within schools despite recent cases of Covid-19 detected among students in several schools recently, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (May 14).

Mr Wong, who is also co-chair of the multi-ministry taskforce in charge of the Covid-19 response, added that several “rings of defence” have been put in place to detect viral infections in the school community. 
 
Speaking at a press conference on Friday where he announced a swathe of heightened safety community measures, he said: “We’ve had a few of such cases where children, students in schools, have been infected. Till now, all of these infections have taken place outside of the school setting.”

Pointing to the case involving a Victoria Junior College (VJC) student as an example, in which no other students, staff members or vendors have tested positive for the virus, Mr Wong said that the infection had also taken place outside the school. 

The case is linked to the Changi Airport cluster, said authorities on Thursday. 

On Thursday, the Education Ministry (MOE) also confirmed that a pupil from Yio Chu Kang Primary had tested positive for Covid-19.  The pupil had contracted the virus from someone living in the same household

The school will place all students on home-based learning for three days, starting Friday. 

Several other schools, including Kong Hwa Primary, had also sent out similar circulars informing parents that they have discovered positive Covid-19 cases among their students. TODAY has sent queries to MOE regarding these cases. 

On Friday, Mr Wong also noted that there were cases among students who appear for now to be linked to a teacher who worked in a tuition centre.

More details of the case of the tuition teacher will be given in the Health Ministry’s update on Friday night. 

In addition, Mr Wong said that schools will no longer allow the use of face shields as a substitute for the wearing of masks, noting that a vast majority of teachers already wear surgical masks.

“But going forward, we will require all teachers to wear surgical masks when they are teaching,” he said. 

Mr Wong said that the authorities will also monitor the cases and the measures closely to see if additional measures are necessary. 

“In the meantime, we have already tightened up all the safe management measures in schools,” stressed Mr Wong.

Describing the existing rings of defences in the schools, Mr Wong said that the first ring is to detect and test close contacts of people who tested positive. 

The second ring is to test everyone in the school, including staff and vendors, which was done in the case of Edgefield Secondary School as well as VJC, said Mr Wong.

He added that his ministry has reminded principals and teachers to be alert and vigilant so as to ensure that students can continue learning safely.

“I think what's very important is… we should remind everyone that so long as you feel sick and you are not feeling well, please do not go to school. Do not go out, go to work, report sick and go and see a doctor immediately. And in the meantime, isolate yourself,” said Mr Wong.

He stressed that the experience from recent cases shows that the outcome pans out differently if people behaved responsibly. 

“They are able to limit the spread of the virus so it doesn't go on to other settings, it's very confined to themselves and maybe to one or two other people in the household, and therefore it stops the spread of the virus very quickly. 

“On the other hand, we have seen cases where people feel sick, they may even have a fever, but they continue going to work, and only see the doctor, later on. And unfortunately, when this happens, the virus would have spread to many other people, be it at work or in other settings.”

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus MOH Victoria Junior College Edgefield Secondary School

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